Once you’ve made the decision to move an elderly loved one into a nursing home or memory care facility, you now have an even bigger decision to make: which facility do you choose to care for your loved one?
After all, the challenges nursing home residents continue to face – including neglect, abuse, and understaffing – are serious, difficult problems experienced throughout Wisconsin and the rest of the country.
Here, we want to help you make the best decision for your loved one with the top things you should look for – and ask about – when considering and touring nursing homes or memory care facilities.
If you have any questions, or if you believe your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, please get in touch with the Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan today.
Transitioning to a nursing home facility can be a significant challenge. It can lead to isolation, depression, and declining mental and physical well-being.
One of the most important ways to avoid this isolation is to ensure your loved one will have plenty of opportunities to socialize with others. Socialization can help seniors stay mentally and physically active, helping them avoid depression, loneliness, and cognitive decline.
When touring a facility, make sure to take note of the communal spaces – are there communal dining rooms, for example, that encourage residents to eat together? – and the activities offered to residents, including games, crafts, and outings.
It’s important that seniors in nursing home facilities have a daily structure that provides them with a meaningful routine they can rely on. These activities may include exercise classes, book clubs, or sewing groups. These types of reliable activities can help boost your loved one’s mood and enhance their quality of life, making it an important thing to check on when touring nursing home facilities.
Inquiring about the home’s seasonal celebrations is also important. Celebrating holidays, birthdays, and other special events can give residents milestones to look forward to while helping them feel connected to one another and the outside world.
It may also give them the opportunity to include their loved ones in the nursing home’s events, ensuring they continue to feel connected to the ones they care about the most.
As understaffing continues to be a significant problem in nursing homes throughout the United States and is one of the primary causes of nursing home neglect. It can result in isolation, neglect in administering medications, not attending to personal hygiene needs, and more.
Hence, when considering nursing home facilities, one of the primary concerns you should have is if the home is adequately staffed to take care of your loved one’s needs. This can depend, of course, on how much care your loved one and other residents will need, but generally, you should make sure there is enough staff for your loved one to receive at least a couple of hours of direct care per day.
Ensuring you are able to regularly check in on your loved one is also critical to consider when evaluating nursing homes. Being able to regularly visit a nursing home will help make sure you can spot any signs of decline or neglect your loved one may be experiencing.
As such, if you get the sense that a nursing home is overly restrictive with their visiting policies, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere.
As discussed above, proper staffing ratios are extremely important – but it’s also important that the staff is properly trained and qualified to care for seniors. Nursing homes should be staffed with licensed and certified nurses, including RNs, LPNs, and CNAs and, generally speaking, the higher the ratio of licensed staff members to non-licensed staff members, the better.
You may also want to ask about how the nursing home keeps their staff up to date on the latest advancements and best practices in nursing home care. If a facility has a training program and ensures their staff is continuously learning how to improve, it’s a good sign they are fully invested in the care of their residents.
It goes without saying that seniors are at an elevated risk of experiencing medical emergencies, which is why it’s so important for nursing homes to be able to respond to these emergencies when they happen.
First and foremost is ensuring they have licensed nurses on staff who can quickly respond to emergencies. But how they coordinate with outside medical providers, including hospitals, is also important, as is having the right medical equipment on site to be able to respond to emergencies, so don’t hesitate to ask about their protocols for handling these situations.
Most seniors move into nursing homes because they are struggling to take care of themselves on a daily basis. They may have a hard time bathing themselves, cleaning their environments, cooking and eating meals, and sticking to what may be a complicated medical regimen.
As such, it is imperative that nursing homes are able and willing to assist with all of these tasks on a daily basis. While this is closely related to appropriate staffing, you should also make sure these are services they provide to other residents on a daily basis to ensure your loved one will have access to the hands-on care they need to remain happy and healthy.
As discussed above, common areas are important for encouraging socialization among nursing home residents. But pay close attention to how well these areas, along with residents’ rooms, are taken care of. Are they as clean and neat as they should be?
In nursing homes, infections can spread very easily, meaning regular, thorough sanitation is a requirement for any nursing home you should consider for your loved one. And, again, a lack of cleanliness may also indicate staffing problems that could result in inadequate care for your loved one.
While most nursing home residents are taking several medications, it’s also important they have access to a quality, nutritious diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean proteins. This will help them stay healthy and well, giving them the best chance of avoiding disease and infection.
If your loved one has any special dietary needs, you should also make sure that the home is able to accommodate those needs, and that they have sanitary and safe food handling practices.
Nursing homes and memory care facilities have a responsibility to provide their residents with the attention, care, and safety they deserve. Unfortunately, even when you do your due diligence and ask all the right questions, nursing homes can fail to uphold this responsibility and instead put their residents in dangerous, painful situations.
At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to hold nursing homes and other care facilities accountable when they neglect their duties, ensuring senior residents and their loved ones achieve the justice they deserve and the compensation they need.
To get started with a FREE, no-obligation consultation, call our nursing home abuse attorneys today at (608) 268-0268. Boller & Vaughan proudly serves clients in Madison and throughout Wisconsin.
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